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Featured Case Study

Picture of three people working togetherManaging the Comprehensive Outsource of Auto Service Technical Training in the United States


A major automotive manufacturer with an extensive retail network throughout the U.S.

Business need

In 1998, the client distributed its cars and trucks through a franchise network of 7,500 dealerships throughout the United States. At that time, the client’s 75,000 service technicians received updated technical training primarily through instructor-led classes at the client’s training centers and at 170 satellite locations (chiefly at affiliated community colleges) nationwide. Certain drawbacks were inherent in this existing system:

  • Not all dealers were sending technicians to complete enough training to meet the client’s service training standards. For many dealers, sending a technician to a day of training meant absorbing the costs of travel and paying the technician wages while losing a day of productivity. In total, this cost averaged more than $500 per each day of training.
  • The costs to the client of maintaining the training facilities and paying instructors were projected to increase steeply in the near future, as lease renewals were imminent.
  • Increasingly frequent new vehicle launches, coupled with the higher level of technical sophistication in each vehicle, amplified the need to deliver more training, and to deliver it quickly and cost-effectively.

Having decided to address these issues by outsourcing its dealer training, the client identified the following objectives for the engagement:

  • Increase the number of technicians trained
  • Increase the depth of training provided to participating technicians
  • Improve the rate of repairs performed the first time, thereby enhancing customer satisfaction
  • Reduce the costs of service technical training to the client and its dealership
  • Significantly enhance the availability and convenience of training by moving away from centralized instructor-led classroom training and toward training delivery to dealerships via computer technology
  • Improve dealer satisfaction with service technical training

How we helped

After designing and proposing a comprehensive strategy to address the client’s learning objectives, RPS was given a sole-source contract in 1999. The initial step was to conduct a thorough analysis of the content of the hundreds of existing service technical courses, as well as the client’s training delivery systems. The analysis led to the implementation of the Service Technical College, which now capitalizes on advanced computer technologies to deliver most technical training accessible from the dealership. The technologies include:

  • Self-paced DVD
  • Web-based training
  • TECHAssists (Web-based short programs that cover basic technologies, emerging issues and service bulletins)
  • High fidelity simulations and
  • Satellite-based interactive distance learning events.

This technology-enabled learning is often enhanced with supplementary video and dynamic animation – whatever is needed to make the training clear and memorable. RPS continues to work closely with the client’s subject matter experts to develop timely technical training as new vehicles and vehicle systems are introduced. In 2005, RPS developed more than 425 hours of training for STC and delivered almost 1.5 million hours of training to the client’s service technicians.

Because some hands-on training is still required, a limited number of regional training centers, which are now operated by RPS, and a decreased number of satellite locations are still functional. However, it is now estimated that 85 percent of the client technician’s training is delivered through computer technologies, and instructor-led classroom training is reserved primarily for evaluation of skills learned.

RPS not only develops and delivers courses for the Service Technical College, but it also oversees the entire learning management system for the client’s retail network, including all related administrative and information technology activities. As of 2005, the system currently maintains 23 million records on technicians’ training achievements.

Business results

As a result of this strategic move, the client is now providing a wider range of training to almost twice as many technicians, at a cost that has decreased by more than 30 percent of its 1999 level.

What’s more, as the number of dealership technicians trained in accordance with the client’s service training standards increased, the level of customer satisfaction also rose, according to the results of surveys provided to every customer. The client’s dealers are also enthusiastic about the Service Technical College, indicating a significantly higher level of satisfaction with training cost-effectiveness, and convenience and availability than the industry average.

Warranty expenditures have also been positively affected. Following a targeted intervention that provided diagnostic training on a specific component, technicians were better prepared to perform repairs. This reduced the volume of component “swap-outs,” bringing down related warranty costs.

The success of STC has led to the renewal of the five-year contract, and expansion of the work RPS handles for the client, including development and delivery of training for additional vehicle brands, as well as for the client’s retail networks in Mexico and Canada.

In 2005, the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) identified the client’s Service Technical College as an Excellence in Practice Award winner for implementing practices that have resulted in clear and measurable benefits.